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About Us

Our Mission

To offer river experiences that provide an opportunity to appreciate nature...and to do so in a way that values everyone.

We believe in conservation through recreation. That memories of time in nature fuel the duty to protect our waters and wildlife. To forge connections with nature through experience and education, so that these experiences may be had for generations to come.

Our Values

The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. offers far more than boats, courses and trips, because its guides understand the river and its natural significance.

Joe Jacob, who created the company, is a marine biologist and conservationist who worked two decades for The Nature Conservancy and has spent years paddling the Haw. His goal is to help everyone appreciate this precious natural resource and help preserve it for future generations.

All courses and trips offered by The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. are intended to raise public awareness to the need to protect our environment. Please don’t disturb wildlife or litter, and consider participating in our “Dollar-a-Day for Conservation” program, where we provide an opportunity for participants to contribute directly to conserving the Haw River and its adjacent land.

Most of all, everyone at The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. believes special places like the Haw River allow people to escape the frenetic pace of life and reinvigorate their lives, their souls. It’s a belief rooted in the motto: “Reconnect with Nature. Have fun paddling.”

Our Team

Joe Jacob

President, Instructor & Guide

An aquatic biologist and environmentalist, Joe Jacob spent two decades working with The Nature Conservancy — serving as Director of Science for the Southeastern United States and working two years with the Conservancy’s Alaska office — before launching his first paddlesports business.

Joe has a strong background in marine ecology. He has worked as a researcher in a marine lab, and taught at both the high school and university levels. He also is trained in first aid and is a certified canoe and kayak instructor.

For 14 years, Joe owned and directed another paddlesports business, eventually selling that operation to spend more time helping others discover their connection to Nature by getting them out on the Haw River.

Jacob Matheny

Instructor, Guide & Operations Manager

Passionate about our rivers, Jacob Matheny began guiding on the Haw River in 2008. He soon found out there was more to paddling than just putting blade to water. The Greenville, S.C. native enjoys sharing what he, himself, has found worth experiencing, spending time on the river, and introducing the sport to as many people as he can. In the past Jacob has guided, run our summer camp program & our instructional classes, and now handles logistics for the company during the summer season. During the winter months Jacob enjoys running the dam releases in the southeast, with some of his closest friends; from moving flat-water sessions, where the water resembles glass, to some of Appalachia’s most Classic whitewater runs.

Employment Opportunities

Reservations Specialist

April-September

Reservations Specialists are responsible for knowing about all courses and trips, when they are scheduled and what is appropriate for an inquiring guest. They respond to inquires by immediately answering phone calls and e-mail messages and returning phone calls. Reservations Specialists guide potential guests through the online registration process or completes Registration Forms for them. They invoice guests via PayPal and follows up if there is no response. Reservations Specialists make sure that all paperwork is complete and that fees are paid before an activity begins. They monitor weather conditions and river levels and notify guests and partner organizations if courses or trips need to be canceled. Reservation Specialists register “walk-ins”, insure that boats and instructors or guides are available, collect fees and make sure that waivers are read and signed. They coordinate changes in course or trip numbers with Instructors and Rental Operators. Reservations Specialists collect money from the sale of concessions, keep track of what is sold and for how much and reconcile sales at the end of the day. They keep the office clean throughout the day and, if time allows, assist with the cleaning of boats and gear.

  1. Concern for and commitment to conservation essential.
  2. Paddling and river experience a plus.
  3. Customer service experience a plus.
  4. Personal qualities must include enthusiasm, honesty and good interpersonal skills.
  5. Ability to clearly communicate with guests and staff.
  6. Exceptional organizational skills in maintaining both paper and computer files.

River Operator

Weekends April-September

River Operators are responsible for the safe conduct of canoe, recreational kayak and stand-up paddleboard trips. They are familiar with the logistical, safety, risk management, loss prevention and natural and cultural history aspects of each trip. River Operators schedule all needed equipment, makes sure it is clean and in good working condition before the trip begins and hauls it to the designated meeting place. They make sure that all trip forms are complete and unpaid trip fees and waivers are collected. River Operators provide a pre-trip briefing that insures that participants understand the activity in which they are about to participate and have had an opportunity to withdraw from it. They organize shuttles, provide introductory instruction and offer natural and cultural history interpretation when possible. River Operators return all equipment and gear in clean and working condition. They are responsible for making sure that all forms, collected fees and completed waivers get back to the office. Finally, when River Operators are not directly involved with getting guests, boats and paddling gear on and off the river, they greet the general public and provide them with information about what The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. offers.

  1. Concern for and commitment to conservation.
  2. Personal qualities must include enthusiasm, good organizational skills, honesty and good interpersonal skills.
  3. Paddling and river rescue experience a plus.
  4. Current certification in First Aid & CPR or equivalent is required. Advanced first aid certification preferred.
  5. Current driver’s license, excellent and safe driving skills and ability to tow and back-up a trailer are required.

River Guide - Day

April-September, Part Time, Weekends

Day-trip Guides are responsible for the safe conduct of canoe, kayak and/or standup paddleboard day trips. They are familiar with the logistics, safety, risk management, loss prevention and natural history aspects of each day trip they guide. Day-trip Guides schedule all needed equipment, makes sure it is clean and in good working condition before the trip begins and haul it to the designated meeting place. They make sure that all trip forms are complete and unpaid trip fees are collected. Day-trip Guides provide a pre-trip briefing that insures that participants understand the activity in which they are about to participate and have an opportunity to withdraw from it. They organize shuttles, provide introductory instruction, and offer natural history interpretation. Day-trip Guides return all equipment and gear in clean and working condition. They are responsible for making sure that all forms and collected fees get back to the office.

  1. Concern for and commitment to conservation.
  2. Personal qualities must include enthusiasm, good organizational skills, honesty and good interpersonal skills.
  3. Paddling and river rescue experience a plus.
  4. Willingness to attend and participate in The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. guide training orientation.
  5. Current certification in First Aid & CPR or equivalent is required. Advanced first aid certification preferred.
  6. Previous guiding, teaching or similar leadership experience required.

Summer Camp Counselor

Week-long, Part-time – mid-June through mid-August

Camp Counselors are responsible for the safe conduct of half-day and full-day Paddle Camps. They are familiar with Paddle Camp lesson plans. Camp Counselors make sure all trip forms are completed prior to the start of a Paddle Camp. Before a Paddle Camp begins, they become familiar with each camper’s Medical Information Sheet and, if necessary, discuss medical issues with parents. Camp Counselors make sure a vehicle, trailer, boats, PFDs, paddles, first aid kit, rescue gear and other necessary gear are scheduled, clean and in good working condition before the day of the Paddle Camp. They stage equipment before campers arrive. Camp Counselors greet arriving campers and lets adults dropping them off know when to pick them up. They collect any forms and unpaid fees before the Paddle Camp begins. Camp Counselors follow the appropriate half-day or full-day lesson plan. They do their best to instill in campers a respect and concern for the natural environment, including local animals and plants and for landowner property rights. Camp Counselors return all equipment and gear in clean working condition. They notify the Operations Manager if any repairs or maintenance are needed.

  1. Concern for and commitment to conservation.
  2. Personal qualities must include enthusiasm, good organizational skills, honesty and good interpersonal skills.
  3. Paddling and river rescue experience a plus.
  4. Current certification in First Aid & CPR or equivalent is required. Advanced first aid certification preferred.
  5. Current driver’s license, excellent and safe driving skills and ability to tow and back-up a trailer are required.
  6. Previous camp counselor experience or comparable teaching experience preferred.
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